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European Kingdoms

Northern Europe


Principality of Koknese (Rus)

Following the death of Vseslav of Polotsk, the greater part of the principality broke up into smaller states which included the principalities of Druck, Jersika, Koknese, Minsk, and Vitebsk. Koknese was one of the smallest principalities, situated on the right bank of the River Daugava, a Lat and Sel settlement which was perhaps more locally known as Kukenois (now in southern-central Latvia).

1180s - 1206

Prince Vyachko / Vetseka / Vetseke

Prince of Koknese. Killed in 1224.


According to the (German) sources, Vetseka gives half of his territory to Albert, bishop of Riga, in return for protection against the duchy of Samogitia and the principality of Polotsk. During a raid by the Order of the Knights of the Sword he is captured and delivered in chains to Riga, where the bishop sets him free. Returning to his capital, Vetseka burns down both it and his fortress and retreats to Novgorod where he dies the following year.

Koknese Castle
The modern ruins of Koknese Castle which was built under the orders of Prince-Bishop Albert in 1209 as a symbol of his gained domination of the region (External Link: Creative Commons Licence 2.0 Attribution-NonCommercial Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0))


By this time, Koknese has been taken over by the Order of the Knights of the Sword. Vyachko, though, continues to fight to establish a domain of his own.

1220 - 1224

The Unguenois rebel against their German overlords. They are encouraged by the Sakalians who send them the bloody swords of Germans they have killed. The Unguenois decide to side with Novgorod, with the result that the Rus princes of Polotsk, Novgorod, and Suzdal send around twenty thousand men to their aid. Prince Vyachko is left in charge of the Unguenois and any other Estonians who will submit to him.

German crusaders recapture all of the rebellious Estonian provinces in 1224 and Vyachko is reduced to holding just the Unguenois centre at Tharbata. Bishop Hermann of Buxhoeveden takes control of Ugaunia from his base in Dorpat while the Order of the Knights of the Sword is granted control of Sakala. Tharbata is conquered later in 1224 and all of its Unguenois and Rus defenders are killed, Vyachko included.